Small Batch Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves + Canning Instructions

I just got back from spending a week with my family, but it wasn't until we were half way back to Missouri that I realized that I had screwed up. I didn't stop by my favorite produce stand to pick up my summer supply of peaches. That meant going an entire year without any because, while Wisconsin produces a lot of great things, peaches just aren't one of them. Those hard as a rock things they sell in the grocery store (you know the ones I'm talking about, don't you?) The ones that never seem to soften up and don't even smell like peaches. Those are not peaches, at least, not the kind I grew up with.

Real peaches are the ones so filled up with juice they burst the second your teeth pierce the flesh, leaving you with a trail of juice running down your chin. Those are the peaches I grew up with, but sadly those are not the peaches I find these days. They seem to be a thing of the past.

I've always felt that it's not officially summer until I've had my first peach, so I spent the drive back to Wisconsin completely dejected. Summer was officially over before it ever really got started. There would be no peach pies, crisps, or cobblers in my future. No jellies, butters, or preserves to get me through the long cold Wisconsin winter.

Summer was dead to me.

Well, at least until I went to the grocery store hungry (something I keep telling myself I shouldn't do, but at least it worked in my favor this time.) I was wandering through the produce section looking for dinner ingredients when I stumbled across case on top of case of canning peaches. I'm ashamed now to admit I walked right on by them (didn't I mention the fact that we don't get good peaches in Wisconsin?)

Then it hit me— I smelled peaches!

I immediately turned the cart around (practically gunning down little old ladies right and left in my effort to get there fast enough) and I picked up a case of some of the best smelling peaching I've seen in years. Then three days later I went back for more, because lets be honest, you can never have too many peaches.

I'm going to give you fair warning, you're about to be inundated with peach recipes, starting with these glorious sweet cherry and peach preserves that I saw on Food in Jars

Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves

Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves
makes 3 half pints

Ingredients

1½ pounds yellow peaches
¾ pounds sweet cherries (see notes)
1¼ cups granulated white sugar 

Directions

  • Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil. Working in small batches, blanch the peaches for 30 seconds, before transferring them to an ice bath. Once the peaches have cooled slightly the skins should easily peel off.
  • Remove the pits from the cherries. You can pull them apart with your hands, or use a chopstick to help force the pit out.
  • In a non-reactive sauce pan add sugar, peaches, and cherries. Stir well to combine, then bring the contents to a boil over high heat.

Make sure to stir the pot frequently taking care to scrape the bottom, especially during the later portion of the cooking process where the fruit tends to burn more easily.

  • While the fruit is cooking sterilize your jars and other canning supplies. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  • Allow the fruit to reduce by roughly ⅓ (this took about 30 minutes, but could take longer.) Turn the heat off once the sauce has thickened.
  • Fill sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. Carefully wipe the rims, add lid and ring, then process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Once the timer goes off, leave the jars in the water for an additional 5 minutes to help prevent the preserves from siphoning.
  • Carefully remove jars and set on a dishtowel. Never set hot jars directly on the counter, the rapid temperature change can cause them to break.
  • Allow the jars to cool completely before testing the seal. Any unsealed jars should be reprocessed or refrigerated immediately.

Notes

When selecting peaches for canning I prefer the freestone variety because the flesh of the peach doesn't cling to the pit. They're a lot less work, which really makes a difference if you plan on processing a ton of peaches. For small batches, such as this recipe, clingstone peaches will work just fine.

I used sweet cherries because it's what I had on hand (thanks to my husband's grandma who gave me a huge bag while we were on vacation,) but sour cherries will work just as well.

Give this recipe your own twist! Try adding a vanilla bean, ground cardamom, ginger, or galangal.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Apple Butter #Unprocessed

I really hadn't planned on buying more apples this week, but I made a last minute trip to the grocery store and discovered that they were on sale. I've never seen them priced so low and I may have been tempted to pick up a few (or possibly 12) pounds. After my marathon canning session last month where I spent my days turning 75 pounds of apples in to sauce I had decided I was done with canning for the year. Not because I was tired of canning, but because I ran out of jars. After turning my house upside down I found a few empty jars that I had been using for other purposes and decided the first project I wanted to cross off my list was apple butter. It's something that I haven't made it in years, but I felt like it was a great project to tackle for October #Unprocessed since one of my goals this month has been to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet.

Fruit butters such as apple butter, apricot butter, and vanilla bean peach butter are a great option for anyone wanting to reduce the amount of sugar in their diets. An entire batch of fruit butter uses 1 cup of sugar (or less) whereas jam or jelly will use as much as 5 cups per batch. It's definitely a much healthier option that will still allow you the occasional sweet treat. I've been enjoying mine on whole grain bread any time my craving for something sweet hits. These days I find that I don't even miss the extra sugar from jam or jelly, plus my house smells like fall every time I open up a jar. 

Apple Butter

makes 6 half-pints or 3 pints

Ingredients

7-8 lbs apples (I used Galla)

3 tablespoons home made pumpkin pie spice

1 vanilla bean

¾ cup light brown sugar or 1 cup of turbinado sugar

Equipment

immersion blender (optional)

water-bath canner or stock pot with lifter

6 half pint canning jars with lids and rings

jar grabber

magnetic lid lifter

funnel 

butter knife

ladle

clean dish towels and cloths 

Directions

  • Wash, peel, and slice apples. Place them in the crock-pot and cook on high with the lid on for 2 - 3 hours.
  • After 2 - 3 hours puree the partially cooked apples with an immersion blender or food processor, return the puree to the slow cooker. Continue cooking the apples for an additional 6 - 8 hours with the lid off.
  • After 6-8 hours the contents of the crock pot should have reduced roughly in half, if they have not you can continue to cook the apples down further. 
  • Open vanilla bean pod with a knife and scrape the insides into the apple butter. Add brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice and stir until well incorporated.
  • At this point you can fill your jars and keep them refrigerated for up to a month or process using the water bath canning directions below for storage of up to one year.

Canning Instructions

  • Sterilize your canning jars, rings, funnel, and any other equipment that will come into contact with the apple butter. You can do this easily by putting everything in the dishwasher and running it. Just don't put your equipment in with dirty dishes.
  • While your jars are sterilizing fill your stock pot with water and let it boil. It takes awhile for a large pot of water to boil, so keep this in mind. You don't want to fill your jars before your water is ready.
  • Once you're ready to fill your jars, place a sauce pan on the stove. Add your canning lids and fill pan with several inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer and allow the sealing wax on the lids to soften for several minutes.
  • Fill sterilized jars with hot apple butter leaving ¼ inch head space at the top. Remove air bubbles with a knife, wipe the rims with a clean damp rag, place lids on top and fasten ring until fingertip tight.
  • Place sealed jars on a rack in the canner or stock pot. Make sure jars are covered with water and that the waterline is about an inch over the top of the jars, then cover pot with lid.

You do not want the jars coming into contact with the bottom of the canner or stock pot because they will bounce around and likely break.

Processing times for this recipe

are 10 minutes for elevations of 0-1,000 ft and 15 minutes for elevations of 1,001-6,000 ft. These times are for quarter-pints, half-pints and pints only.

  • Process half pints and pints for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Time starts once the water has come to a complete boil again. You may need to add boiling water to keep the water level up as the jars are processing.
  • Remove jars from canner, set on a clean dish towel, and let them rest for several hours until cool. You should hear a popping sound as the lids seal. 
  • To check the seals of your jars press the center gently with your finger. If it moves up and down the jar is not sealed. You can either reprocess using a new lid never reuse an old lid or once the jar is cool, eat the apple butter. You know you want to and you deserve the treat after such hard work!
  • Label with detailed contents and date, then store in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Other Notes

I decided to use Galla apples for this recipe because they are naturally sweet which meant I could use less sugar. If you use another variety, especially one that is tart, you may need to increase the amount of sugar.